James T. Hodgkinson, the man who allegedly shot and wounded Representative Steve Scalise and others during a Congressional baseball practice Wednesday, was charged with assaulting his girlfriend and the reckless discharge of a firearm in 2006, but the charges were later dismissed.
The Huffington Post broke down the charges, “Online court records suggest Hodgkinson had a history of violence. He was arrested in 2006 on suspicion of battery with intent to cause bodily harm. He was also charged with domestic battery, criminal damage of property and reckless discharge of a firearm during the incident. The charges were later dismissed. Police recovered a pocket knife and a 12-gauge shotgun during the 2006 incident. In 1993, he was charged with a DUI and resisting arrest, the latter charge eventually dismissed.” The full report was uploaded by Ryan J. Reilly, Sebastian Murdock and Sam Levine of Huffington Post.
It’s too easy to look away, to treat intimate partner terrorism as something that happens to other people. But read the highlights of this incident and imagine that this could happen to anyone:
What does intimate partner terrorism have to do with mass shootings, or an attempt at a mass shooting (a mass shooting is defined as an incident where four or more people are shot and killed, not including the shooter)?
A lot, apparently. Which makes sense, because we often see a history of intimate partner abuse in mass shooters.
“Like the shooting of the Smith family, the majority of mass shootings in the United States are related to domestic or family violence. Furthermore, there are often warning signs in advance of these shootings—’red flags’ indicating that the shooters posed a risk to themselves or others,” Everytown For Gun Safety, an organization working to reduce gun violence, informs us.
In their effort to identify policies that could help prevent mass shootings, Everytown identified the following findings (my bold):
From 2009-2016 in the U.S., there have been 156 mass shootings—incidents in which four or more people were shot and killed, not including the shooter. These incidents resulted in 1,187 victims shot: 848 people were shot and killed, and 339 people were shot and injured. In addition, 66 perpetrators killed themselves after a mass shooting, and another 17 perpetrators were shot and killed by responding law enforcement.
The majority of mass shootings—54 percent of cases—were related to domestic or family violence.
Mass shootings significantly impacted children: 25 percent of mass shooting fatalities (211) were children. This is primarily driven by mass shootings related to domestic or family violence, in which over 40 percent of fatalities were children.
In nearly half of the shootings—42 percent of cases—the shooter exhibited warning signs before the shooting indicating that they posed a danger to themselves or others. These red flags included acts, attempted acts, or threats of violence towards oneself or others; violations of protective orders; or evidence of ongoing substance abuse.
More than one-third of the shootings—34 percent—involved a shooter who was prohibited from possessing firearms.
Only ten percent of incidents took place in “gun-free zones”, or areas where civilians are prohibited from carrying firearms and there is not a regular armed law enforcement presence (armed security guards, for example). The vast majority of incidents—63 percent—took place entirely in private homes.
The New York Times broke down a few examples of the relationship between intimate terrorism and mass murders in June of 2016, “One of the first things we learned about Omar Mateen, the gunman in the nightclub massacre in Orlando, Fla., was that his ex-wife said he had beaten her severely until she left him in 2009. If it sounds familiar that a gunman in a mass shooting would have a history of domestic violence, it should.”
What lawmakers need to understand is that the same terror several Republican congressmen faced today during a baseball game is faced by American women and children every day.
… Only they do it without the help of the Capitol Police. They do it alone or at the end, if they’re lucky, with the help of police, who are often put in harms way as a result.
Their children watch or are victims themselves. They, too, are all alone.
The terrorism they face is a red flag for the rest of the country. If we treated domestic violence as the horrific crime it is, as the terrorism is it experienced as, we would not only be taking a step in the right direction as the “land of the free”, protecting women and children (there are male victims of intimate partner terrorism as well, but the victims are statistically more often women and the victims of murder by gun are usually women), but we would also be taking a step forward to protect our entire culture from mass shootings.
The same urge to demonize a person as the source of the perpetrator’s troubles, the desire to take out their frustration and rage on a vulnerable person, this translates on a bigger scale to a mass shooting. It translates as power through fear. Control through a gun.
It’s incredible that in the land of the free, three women die every day due to intimate partner terrorism and 50 women on average every month are shot to death by an intimate partner.
If lawmakers would just listen to the pleas of these women, we could identify potential mass shooters earlier. We could save women, children, men, politicians, – we could save ourselves.